BRASÍLIA --- The French company Dassault has until September 21 to formalize to the Brazilian Air Force a new business proposal for the Rafale fighter that is compatible with the parameters specified by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This deadline also applies to the other two competitors, Boeing (F-18) and Saab (Gripen NG), who may wish to match the French proposals.
It is the expectation of the Brazilian air force to complete the technical review process by the end of October, so that the information can be delivered to the Minister of Defense who will then pass it on to the President, who will carry out policy and strategic analysis, and take the final decision.
"Now we have to evaluate the proposals. The commitments that President Sarkozy made will have to be confirmed by Dassault's own offer," Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said last Thursday [Sept. 10—Ed.]. "The important thing is that there has been a political decision of the President to expand the strategic alliance with France. ... for this policy decision to come into effect, it depends on Dassault and also the other [bidders], because there needs to be a comparative evaluation," the minister said.
Jobim said that the evaluation process is following its normal course, and rejected criticism of those who claim that the government rushed to announce a preference for the Rafale, with conditions discussed with the French government. "The ones who rushed were the ones who jumped to a conclusion that was never stated [by the government], and that is why the President had to confirm that ‘we are going back’ to negotiations.”
During the news conference by Presidents Lula and Sarkozy, on September 7, on the insistence of journalists who wanted to know whether the negotiations with Dassault’s would be cancelled, the President said, "Our colleagues worked until almost two in the morning. I even had time for a meeting with the Defense Minister to discuss in depth the discussions they had. Clearly, this means nothing more and nothing less than was stated in the [joint] communiqué, i.e. that we decided to start negotiations for the purchase of the Rafale.”